Highs and Lows and Highs…..

Highs and Lows and Highs…..

Well this horsey business is a roller-coaster isn’t it! One minute you are on top of the world and the next you are (literally) flat on your face in mud.

This month started with Eland BE90. Amber was AWESOME. She slipped 3 times in the dressage and I over-rode for a silly pole SJ but flew the XC with just 2 time pens. She did not hesitate at a thing and could have gone round 3 times. Woohoo. It was just brilliant. And has answered my ‘should I event her barefoot’ question. (No.)



Then 2 weeks later it was time for Bradwall BE90. Storm Hannah hit and the conditions were HORRENDOUS. Relentless heavy rain, strong winds, the odd flurry of hail. I sat in the lorry staring gloomily at horizontal rain pondering my options. A friend updated FB: “I’ve been eliminated in the SJ and am waiting for a tractor to tow me off.” A teenager from my yard finished, was shivering like a whippet and withdrew her 2nd horse. What to do? But in the end I decided that dealing with adverse conditions is part of eventing. I did not want Amber to have a negative experience but how would I know how she would cope unless I tried? I’ve ridden in clinics in worse conditions (possibly), my manta being: if they’ll teach in it, I’ll ride in it. So I needed to just get out there and do my best. And Amber needed to suck it up and listen to me regardless of the weather. And, bless her, she did.

A hail-storm hit as we warmed up for dressage but despite that she rode a calm(ish) obedient(ish) test. She was not straight as she kept bending her head and body away from the wind but I’ll let her off that. It was a 39.8 – so not a good score  – but I was thrilled with her attitude which was kind of resigned and accepting as opposed to having a tantrum or freaking out.

So onto show-jumping which was where my day ended when I tried to play safe at the last fence and held her for an extra stride. Which meant she hit the churned up rubbish in front of the fence, lost her footing and skidded in. She made to jump anyway so I went forward then she sensibly changed her mind and I  toppled down her neck.  The most ridiculously unnecessary fall. So mad with myself. I spent all evening beating myself up about a) taking her in the first place and possibly knocking her confidence and b) stuffing it up and knocking mine!

Then I re-read the ideas around embracing failure: If I ride to my limits then I will sometimes mess it up. And I will learn from that and get  better. The only way not to fail is to never try anything hard. And actually I discovered that Amber is pretty robust in bad weather which is useful to know.  And seemed totally unconcerned by the skid or the unplanned dismount. Plus I learnt that if I try to play it safe, I interrupt the flow, overthink things and make a hash of it. Tentative and hesitant riding is not the way to go. So that’s another mistake I’ll know not to make again.

Straight after Bradwall it was the pairs HT at Eland Lodge over the BE80 course. What a difference a day makes! The sun was shining and we were eating ice creams in t shirts. The twins entered on their matching white ponies and they looked great. Even better, they rode great too! Dolly led Jenny round and both jumped confident clears. Dolly acts way older than her tender years! She is a real old soul. She is just so brave and bold.

So we are back on top of the world again. For now. But one thing for sure is that horsey fortunes are as fickle as the British weather. And to enjoy the sunny uplands we have to do a lot of hard, hard work in the rain. But that is what makes the successes all the sweeter.



Keeping it real

Keeping it real

The law of averages dictate that most of us, most of the time, in most things, are – well – average. In every competition there are a small number of people who place and a far larger number who don’t. And in every competition there is someone listed last and people who don’t  actually score at all due to elimination. Being dead last seems pretty undesirable for most people. But for every first place there is a last place and a whole bunch of in-the-middle-somewhere places and a fair smattering of ‘it really wasn’t my day’ non-placings.

However if you enjoy insta and FB and spend Sunday evening catching up with equine news of friends and friends of friends you might be forgiven for thinking that everyone smashes it all the time. Everyone except you.

Don’t get me wrong – I love it when people share their achievements with their friends on FB. I love seeing the reports and the photos. Other people’s achievements are inspiring and it’s great seeing friends doing well. And I am also not suggesting that people should post about their disappointments if they don’t want to. People use social media however they want to.  But it IS worth bearing in mind that when you read social media that for many people insta and FB are the modern day equivalent of the holiday photo album: we show pictures of smiling kids, spectacular scenery and sunshine. We edit out the tantrums, the projectile car sickness episodes and the sunstroke.

I have twin daughters and it so happens that sometimes one or other of them is having a run of great form and good luck, or  of poor form and bad luck. And every so often one’s purple patch just happens to coincide with the other one’s doldrums. And yet I see the effort they both make day after day, week after week, month after month. So one Sunday when one had had a great day and the other hadn’t I wrote a FB post which seems to have resonated as it was widely shared. So I have reproduced it below.  I choose to post the good, the bad and the ugly but that is only because my blog is my story and I want it to be a complete record of where I came from and where I eventually get to.

But no-one is obliged to post anything if they don’t want to and many understandably choose not to post when things have not gone well. So it is important to remember that you are seeing a small selection of the weekend events and not to compare your own messy, frustrating, up and down equine life with other people’s highlights.

I wrote:

I would like to offer a shout out to all those who did not have a great day. Who have worked just as hard, are just as committed, spent just as long schooling, fittening, training, bathing, plaiting, preparing and psyching themselves up. Who tried just as hard. To jump clear and place, everything has to go right. To fall flat on your face (metaphorically or literally) can happen in any one of a dozen ways. So for those who had run outs, refusals, poles, falls, eliminations, errors of course, time penalties or ponies who stopped to wee in the middle of a round (been there!!) it doesn’t matter. You are all awesome to be out there competing in the sport we all love. You care for your horses and ponies, you train hard, you are brave, focused, tenacious and dedicated. And your time to celebrate will come!

Happy horsing everyone. However it is going right now.